Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz., Duke of Kent, King George III, King George III of Great Britain, Kings and Queens of Great Britain, Madame de Saint Laurent, Mistress, Prince Edward, Qubec, Queen Victoria
On Friday, May 24, is the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. To honor this occasion I’ll feature some biographical info on her father Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will feature Queen Victoria’s mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and Friday I’ll feature Queen Victoria’s Birth itself.
His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin.
Prince Edward was born on November 2, 1767. He was the son of the the reigning British monarch, King George III of Great Britain and Imperial Elector of Hanover and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Edward from birth, and was fourth in the line of succession to the throne. He was named after his paternal uncle, Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany, who had died several weeks earlier and was buried at Westminster Abbey the day before his birth.
The Prince began his military training in Germany in 1785. King George III intended to send him to the University of Göttingen, but decided against it upon the advice of the Duke of York. Instead, Edward went to Lüneburg and later Hanover, accompanied by his tutor, Baron Wangenheim. On May 30, 1786, he was appointed a brevet colonel in the British Army. From 1788 to 1789, he completed his education in Geneva. On August 5, 1789, aged 22, he became a mason in the L’Union, the most important Genevan masonic lodge in the 19th century.
Due to the extreme Mediterranean heat, Edward requested to be transferred to present-day Canada, specifically Quebec, in 1791. arrived in Canada in time to witness the proclamation of the Constitutional Act of 179, Edward became the first member of the Royal Family to tour Upper Canada and became a fixture of British North American society. Edward and his mistress, Julie St. Laurent, became close friends with the French Canadian family of Ignace-Michel-Louis-Antoine d’Irumberry de Salaberry; the Prince mentored all of the family’s sons throughout their military careers. Edward guided Charles de Salaberry throughout his career, and made sure that the famous commander was duly honoured after his leadership during the Battle of Chateauguay.
Madame de Saint-Laurent
Madame de Saint-Laurent was born September 30, 1760 in Besançon, France to Jean-Claude Mongenêt, a civil engineer, and Jeanne-Claude (Claudine) Pussot and later moved to Quebec.
On the formation of Lower Canada, in August, 1791, Prince Edward, arrived in Quebec City and shortly afterwards leased Judge Mabane’s house for £90 per annum. He lived at Prince Edward’s House in Quebec City for three years with Madame de Saint Laurent, before he was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1794.
While in Geneva, the Duke had been introduced to Madame de Saint-Laurent and her husband Baron de Fortissons and soon after Julie and Edward became lovers. The Duke’s father, King George III, enrolled Edward in the army In 1789, he was appointed colonel of the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers). In 1790, he returned home without leave and, in disgrace, was sent off to Gibraltar as an ordinary officer, where Edward made arrangements for Madame de Saint-Laurent to be smuggled in from Marseilles so they could be together.
When George III later found out about the affair he sent the Duke to Quebec City as colonel of the 7th Fusiliers. Humiliated, at first he refused to go, but in August 1791 he arrived accompanied by his chatelaine, introduced as Julie de Saint-Laurent and reputed to be a widow. It has been claimed by several writers that she was morganatically married to the Duke of Kent at a Roman Catholic church in Quebec.
For twenty-eight years Madame de Saint-Laurent presided over the Duke’s household, as a local chronicler records, “with dignity and propriety.” She is described as having been beautiful, clever, witty and accomplished. Many of her letters will be found in Anderson’s ” Life of the Duke of Kent ” (Quebec: 1870).
On June 27, 1792, Edward is credited with the first use of the term “Canadian” to mean both French and English settlers in Upper and Lower Canada. The Prince used the term in an effort to quell a riot between the two groups at a polling station in Charlesbourg, Lower Canada. Recently he has been styled the “Father of the Canadian Crown” for his impact on the development of Canada.
After 1794, Prince Edward lived at the headquarters of the Royal Navy’s North American Station located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was instrumental in shaping that settlement’s military defences, protecting its important Royal Navy base, as well as influencing the city’s and colony’s socio-political and economic institutions. Edward was responsible for the construction of Halifax’s iconic Garrison Clock, as well as numerous other civic projects such as St. George’s Round Church. Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth and Lady Francis Wentworth provided their country residence for the use of Prince Edward and Julie St. Laurent. Extensively renovated, the estate became known as “Prince’s Lodge” as the couple hosted numerous dignitaries, including Louis-Phillippe of Orléans (the future King of the French). All that remains of the residence is a small rotunda built by Edward for his regimental band to play music.
HRH The Duke of Kent and Strathearn
After suffering a fall from his horse in late 1798, he was allowed to return to England. On April 24, 1799, Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin, received the thanks of parliament and an income of £12,000. In May that same year the Duke was promoted to the rank of general and appointed Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America. He took leave of his parents 22 July 1799 and sailed to Halifax. Just over twelve months later he left Halifax and arrived in England on August 31, 1800 where it was confidently expected his next appointment would be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
In Geneva Switzerland Prince Edward had two more mistresses, Adelaide Dubus and Anne Moré. Adelaide Dubus died at the birth of their daughter, also named Adelaide Dubus (1789 – in or after 1832). Anne Moré was the mother of their son Edward Schenker Scheener (1789–1853). Scheener married but had no children and returned to Geneva, perhaps significantly in 1837, where he later died.
Mollie Gillen, who was granted access to the Royal Archive at Windsor Castle, established that no children were born of the 27-year relationship between Edward Augustus and Madame de Saint-Laurent; although many Canadian families and individuals (including the Nova Scotian soldier Sir William Fenwick Williams, 1st Baronet, have claimed descent from them. Such claims can now be discounted in light of this research.
After the Duke’s marriage in 1818 to the widow of the Prince of Leiningen, Madame de Saint-Laurent retreated to Paris where she lived out her days amongst her family and friends.